Photos, Cinema & Blogs from JJ Kelley - Artist/Pilot/Creator
Bit ‘O Freaky Feb…

Bit ‘O Freaky Feb…

Oh my goodness, have I got a stack of adventures to catch up on! They’ll be out of order, coz I don’t control how my inspirations move me, haha. So, as for February 2021 in my truckin’ adventures, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling twenty-ish states (some a few times) and carried a total of 17 loads of cargo, averaging about 1800 miles a week! Here is where I spent much of my miles in February:

Started in VA, hopped skipped jumped, climbed, circled, and ended the month in TX

My longest haul was 1,111 miles, shortest was 80, and average was 330. Trinity III and I pulled off 7.3 mpg, and averaged 52 mph. She was a 2021 Freightliner Cascadia with 18,000 miles when I got her, and was equipped with side cameras, and a front camera. I slept on a memory foam mattress, and had ParkSmart cab comfort package. Her 1800 watt inverter kept us cooled, warmed, and fed, haha. Two 100-gallon fuel tanks kept us rollin about 1,000 miles between fill-ups, and I helped get her DT-12 automated-manual transmission to eventually give us 8.2 miles per gallon. My favorite spot that month was Caprock Canyon State Park in Texas which I stumbled upon by surprise. You see, I prefer interstates for going longer distances, but this time, all 3 of my navigation systems were fighting me and telling me to take this particular route. Finally succumbing to my technology, I set off down that two lane State Route. I approached a length of roadway which had an S-curve sign telling me to roll through at a limit of 30 mph. As I entered the second curve, a jaw dropping view was revealed as though a curtain was slowly being pulled back; it was stunning! I had to seize the opportunity to pull in and take some photos. I’m sure THAT surprises you. Lol. I had just washed the tractor that morning as well… So the timing could not have been more perfect, especially since you see in the map above how much I was up in New England, —in February — and she was muddy, mucky, yucky.

We motored on towards our destination, and now you will discover why I entitled this month Freaky February. We rolled through a small town in Oklahoma which I love doing sometimes because I get to see the locals, who almost always wave. There’s usually a really cute little Main Street USA type street and unique little painted buildings and such that the town is known for.

Well, after such a lovely mid-day, and 60 miles from pick up, I slowly approached a traffic lighted intersection well past that tiny main street town, only to feel a strange nudge, accompanied by cracking plastic, as I saw parts of Trinity III hurling through the air, and an intrusive white texan-tagged pick-up truck under my window! Once the imoact registered, I eased out of the travel lane, only to watch our intruder continue and speed off through the red light across 4 lanes of traffic, making an illegal left turn on red, running from the scene! I grabbed my phone, snapped a few pix of the perpetrator. I saw other motorists pass in slow motion, as their passengers looked at me while their drivers continued driving them past me, careful to avoid the smashed pieces of my poor tractor laying in the street :0(.

After safely stopping, all which I accomplished next I will attribute to my CDL School’s instructor teams. Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, VA. Their team of instructors go way above and beyond just helping students get their CDL-A license. They do not cookie-cut a monologue of a program the way so many do; they go beyond and teach each individual student. Well, this added value of excellence helped me cope with what no driver ever wants to go through: Sorting, reporting, making statements, all about things that moments before one never thought they’d need to recall. As a professional CMV (commercial motor vehicle) driver there are some mandatory protocols. I could hear my instructors’ voices in my head…

  1. 4-ways
  2. Call 911,
  3. Warning triangles at 10-100-200
  4. Climb out on non-traffic side of truck.
    As I was debarking from my poor Trinity III (this was now after going back into the truck after securing and inspecting my scene to breathe), a gentleman appeared. Turns out he and his wife took off after the pick up truck, got a description of the driver, license plate, truck model, etc, and then came back to give statements and assistance to the Seargeant dispatched to the scene. What ?!?!? A good samaritan? Were they occupants of one of the half dozen or so cars which passed me in slow motion? These occupants all had no faces, but had a range of expressions from shock, to pity, to wonderment at what they just saw.

The Seargeant was extremely kind, professional, patient, and even complimented Schneider (my employer) for how organized our papers binder (permit book) was so that he was easily able to access the data needed for his report.. He also helped get the local big rig towing company call started to mutually benefit some time-saving as I was sorting company phone calls.

Calling my employer I basically dealt with 3 teams.
1. 1st the accident team

2. 2nd the maintenance tea

3. 3rd the ops/dispatch team who would be forced to reassign the load I was heading for.

The following morning I would get the call from the 1st shift Safety Manager, who subsequently pulled the actual footage of the entire incident from Trinity’s cameras! I did get to see it, it was quite clear footage. The side camera got the driver weaving, and coming up to sideswipe the entire side of my truck and the front camera got the driver taking off after the incident. Since I was driving professionally, obviously the cameras confirmed that along with the data stats from the engine’s control module, all I had to do was give the manager my statement. I did not have to prove anything, or explain anything, it was quite reassuring that all the technology protected me from any question of liability or fault.

That said, my poor Trinity took a hit and was smashed up a bit. We did not require a tow, the towing company was able to remove the parts that were loose, and after parking down the street I was able to drive her to one of our company operating centers’ maintenance shop the following day. They did not put my baby back together the way I would have hoped though. In fact, I was still missing pieces and tried over the following weeks to get them from different operating centers when I passed by, but I never got every single piece. Plus, there were a few items like the rubber skidding marks on the cab’s white paint that I did not know how to properly remove, and the shop of course was more invested on the mechanics over any type of cosmetics. Can I say that I’m so glad my truck was washed? It sure made me feel better that the witnesses and all others didn’t have to see “just another ratty filthy truck” get hit. In a weird way, I feel it almost made a big, if not subconscious, difference to an on-looker’s first impression, curtailing an automatic judgment of “the big bad filthy trucker must be at fault”. That may be all in my own mind, but, non-the-less, whatever helps me feel better about a yukky thing, yes? I wish I could get a copy of the safety camera footage. Ill ask, and if I get anything, I’ll modify this post.

The following morning I stopped by the local police station before leaving town to see if they had the report/record. I knew they wouldn’t but the records clerk was extraordinarily helpful and let me fill out the request form in person, show my ID, pay the nominal couple dollars, and she promised to email it to me, which she did! they had all the others driver’s info on it. I have not yet revisited the incudent to see what happened to the other driver citation wise, but I guess I can ask our Safety Manager. I’m sure it’s long gone off her desk and just in the legal offices, but maybe there’s some follow-up I can find out about.

That about sums up February, but above are some joyous photos from that month. And some not too joyous. Weather adds a component to big rig trucking. Please remember though that the Semi Tractor Trailers are more often than not, *not* at fault in these wrecks. We are often forced into debilitating circumstances by the other motorists on the roadways who may not realize that trucks move way differently than regular automobiles. To take it a step further, loaded trailers move differently than empty trailers, and a non professional driver may not be able to tell which is which. Yes, any super truckers out there will chide me and tag me as a rookie, and a chick, and that’s fine. I hope Im always a rookie chick with my tires slowly rollin but at the least *on* the road. Thats no diss, and I respect many elders of this industry.

Cheers & smiles, and loaded miles!



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